Technology Transfer Overview

Technology is typically transferred through an agreement in which MIT grants to a third party a license to use MIT’s intellectual property rights in the defined technology, sometimes for a particular field of use and/or region of the world.

Such a grant may be exclusive or non-exclusive. The licensee (the third party licensing the technology) may be an established company or a new business startup. Licenses include terms that require the licensee to meet certain performance requirements and to make financial payments to MIT. These payments are shared with the inventors and also distributed to departments and research centers to provide support for further research, education and participation in the technology transfer process.

Please refer to the pages in this section for more detailed explanations of the steps in tech transfer process. An Inventor's Guide to Technology Transfer is another helpful resource.

FAQ

You are encouraged to submit a Technology Disclosure for all developments that you feel may solve a significant problem and/or have significant value. If you are in doubt, contact the TLO to discuss the potential invention. We can also advise on alternatives to licensing.

The reasons are unique to each researcher and may include:

  • Making a positive impact on society
  • Feeling a sense of personal fulfillment
  • Achieving recognition and financial reward
  • Generating additional department/center funding
  • Meeting the obligations of a research contract
  • Attracting research sponsors
  • Creating educational opportunities for students
  • Linking students to future job opportunities

Inventors enjoy the satisfaction of knowing their inventions are being deployed for the benefit of the general public.  New and enhanced relationships with businesses are another outcome that can augment one’s teaching, research and consulting. In addition, a share of any financial return from a license is provided to the inventor(s). For more information, please read the Guide to the Ownership, Distribution and Commercial Development of MIT Technology. Section 4.8 specifically discusses royalty distribution.

The cooperation and collaboration of inventors are critical to the success of any technology transfer process. You can help us by:

  • Contacting the TLO or the appropriate Technology Licensing Officer when you believe you have a scientific or technical observation with potential commercial or research value
  • Completing and submitting the MIT Technology Disclosure Form in sufficient time to file a patent application before publicly disclosing your technology or publishing a manuscript— at least one month before submitting the manuscript for publication.
  • Contacting the TLO before holding any discussions with people outside the MIT community to avoid risking your patent rights and possibly hindering the opportunity to market your invention; if a patent application has not yet been filed, we will negotiate a Non-Disclosure Agreement with the party to sign before you describe your invention to them
  • Including companies and contacts on the MIT Technology Disclosure Form, you believe might be interested in your intellectual property or who may have already contacted you about your invention. Studies have shown that over 70% of all licenses are executed with commercial entities known by the inventor, so your contacts can be extremely useful
  • Responding to the TLO and outside patent counsel requests. While some aspects of the patent and licensing process will require significant participation on your part, we will strive to make efficient use of your time. However, the patenting process takes several years, and you need to be committed to working with us and patent counsel over this time. 
  • Keeping the TLO informed of upcoming publications or interactions with companies related to your intellectual property